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Leverett Buys New Painting

House Purchases $5000 Artwork for Dining Hall

By Arnold E. Franklin

Art critics run amok in the Leverett House dining hall these days.

The object of their conversations is a new eight-by-eight foot painting which has been hanging on the dining hall's mantel since exam period. The work, a textured, abstract painting, was produced by Jerry Webster, a young artist from Jeffersonville, N.Y.

The artwork, made with water-based paint and gel, was commisioned last May because the dining hall "needed some color, some pizzazz" after the Fogg Museum took back the tapestry which had been hanging over the mantel until two years ago, said Leverett House Master John Dowling.

During reading and exam periods Webster painted three pieces which were viewed by students in two showings. About 90 percent of the students chose "Coltrane," calling it "a wonderful contribution to the house," Dowling said.

The painting, which cost $5000, derive, its name from the "Coltrane Orgy," a 48-hour radio celebration of the jazz music of John Coltrane, broadcast on WHRB radio while Webster was working on the piece, he said.

Students' sentiments towards the piece were mixed in the Leverett dining hall last night. According to Allison C. McCarley '91, the painting was "a waste of money--students could have gotten better food and extermination instead of a $5000 painting."

Several students seemed annoyed at Dowling for not allowing the house members to choose the artist themselves. They also said they were upset about having to choose one of the three paintings with no "none of the above" choice available.

"We could have died by hanging, by electrocution or by lethal injection. We chose hanging and there it is...hanging on the wall," said Eli Karsh '91, who then added that, "the painting is the perfect size, though."

Diners enjoying the new addition to their dining hall were also to be found. Said Joe M. Hill '91, "it's a very musical painting that accompanies the room well."

"It evokes Coltrane for me because the splashes of intense color and the contrasts are reminiscient of the bursts of intensity and contrast within his music," said Jeff S. McKinnon a graduate student visiting the upper-class house.

When told about students' unhappiness with the painting, Webster said that, "It isn't my problem. I think the painting dominates the space and brings some color to the room, which is otherwise banal," he said.

Dowling said that he is disappointed that students feel so negatively towards the work.

While some students said they were upset with the cost of the painting, Webster said that with the cost of materials "most of the profit was personal."

"It takes a while to get it," said Webster about his painting. "Actually, I was surprised as many people liked it as did."

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